December 13, 2014

So Why Do Genealogy?

This is a question many ask those who actually do the research. There isn't a "one answer fits all approach". In my path of researching genealogy I have come across many who are doing it for many different reasons. I'm sure there are plenty more beyond what I've listed below.

  • They want a sense of identity
  • They were adopted and want to find family
  • Uncover past medical issues
  • Never got to know their father or mother
  • Want to believe they have royalty blood
  • Will find a "pot of gold" as a forgotten heir
  • Wanting to understanding their culture or lack of infusion in their culture
  • Hidden family secrets
  • They are alone in the world and they want to find family
  • Teach their children beyond the textbooks
  • Part of their religion
  • Love of history and want to explore

No matter what the reason is, note that you'll get to meet many people that fit one or multiple categories in the above list; I personally fit a few and no not looking for gold, thank you very much. I personally research because I do want a sense of identity and love reading about history. I wanted to learn about a culture that is a part of me but I didn't know anything beyond speaking to family who had connections to Puerto Rico or even friends who were from Puerto Rico. Up until the age of 41, I only identified as being Dominican; now I identify as both.

Not knowing that I was half Puerto Rican was something I had to learn and appreciate.  Don't get it wrong, I appreciate that I'm American born. However without acknowledging that I'm half Puerto Rican and Dominicans is doing a disservice to those before me that struggled to make me and many others possible. Those who fought in WWI, WWII, the Korean and the Vietnam Wars and continue to do so till today; many families sacrificed their loved ones for our freedom.  This led me down the path of wanting to know everything about me; both paternal and maternal. This is what has lead me on my path of genealogy. Discovering along the way how the Ottoman Empire's oppression of Maronite Catholics  led my great grandfather Emilio Marun at the age of 18 to appear on the shores of Colombia in 1885 then in Dominican Republic in 1898 was just the beginning of many interesting facts.

So I don't judge others as to why they are researching their ancestry. I try to assist those who want to know more about themselves. Part of researching is learning and sharing with others so they too can benefit.  I do provide a helping hand when asked and that is what finally made me realize that I needed to share the truth about my ancestors but still protect the living. In doing so I'm hoping to erase the mistakes being made on numerous trees and opening the door to family conversations. I have helped numerous cousins reconnect with the family making them feel as if they belong too.

Without realizing it, no matter whether you hate or love history, you'll quickly discover how interesting history becomes as it has a more personal feeling. You're not reading about a stranger but an actual relative; someone personally connected to you. I never thought of being related to Conquistadors but I discovered a man in my line that fits this label. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed as I realize that these were his decisions whether I agreed with them or not. Did the Conquistadors do a disservice to the Taino Indians and Africans? Absolutely! However everything isn't as simple as the textbooks want to paint them. There were plenty of mixed culture relationships in the past; something I would not have learned about in our "perfect world textbooks".

Through genealogy we also discover that things are not truly as they're portrayed as textbooks have history written; its not a one size fit all, and I've discovered along with many other genealogist that even reference books may not always be true.

The greatest benefit of genealogy is the ability to pass down the truth to our children. Give them a sense a pride of who they are whether they are of European, Jewish, African, Iberian, Indian from the Americas, or Asian descent and rediscovering why so many came to America. The idea is to pass down the truth and not some of the hokey pokey nonsense we read and scratch our heads on.

I also found that not every pirate was evil. Did we know why they became a pirate? Although this particular pirate has no relation to me as far as I know, he is a perfect example. I never heard of Roberto Cofresi and was enthralled over coming across him. Yes he lived when Rafael Betancourt was living in Puerto Rico. Clicking on his name will take you to a wiki page about him. There is even a statue in honor of him in the town of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. A Betancourt descendant was also discovered to have been a pirate in the 1800's. Did he do it to help feed his family? What will you discover about your line? What can you share with your children?

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